The United States is in the midst of exciting times and so is the Women’s Bureau. The Bureau, which is a part of the U. S. Department of Labor, is the only federal agency exclusively mandated to serve and promote the interests of women in the workplace. We have 90 years of experience working specifically to expand opportunities for women so they can achieve economic security. Right now, we are in a unique position to promote and participate in the progress being made on behalf of women and to respond to the dynamic changes taking place in the labor market.
At the Women’s Bureau, we believe that economic security issues affect all of us. Under the leadership of Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, the Women’s Bureau has focused on four critical areas: equal pay, higher paying jobs for women, workplace flexibility and the plight of homeless women veterans. We are working with leaders from the private sector, non-profits, educational institutions and other government agencies to develop innovative ideas. We are also working to expand our programs and initiatives and to enhance, support and coordinate existing programs for women and girls to better address the challenges in today’s workforce.
Our work on these important issues is aligned with and builds on the findings and focus of the report: “Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being” created for The White House Council on Women and Girls.
The report indicates that today, while America’s 72 million working women provide a larger share of a family’s earnings, they are still paid less than men for the same or similar work. Women also hold fewer high paying jobs and have less workplace flexibility even though they hold more high level degrees. While we have made progress, we still have a long way to go. [To read the Women in America Employment Factsheet, click here.]
The Women’s Bureau is actively supporting changes in workplace policy that will accommodate both family responsibilities and successful job performance. We have formed working partnerships to help the over 7,000 homeless women veterans with housing, employment and health care. The Women’s Bureau has hosted 30 national roundtables, 16 regional Economic Stimulus Forums, workshops, and other events to address financial and workplace challenges faced by women and to develop strategies to support economic recovery in these harsh economic times.
Working with partners we have facilitated a financial literacy overview, contracted job training programs and provided resources to guide young women into higher paying jobs, particularly Green and STEM jobs that are rapidly becoming a significant economic driver in the United States. In an effort to get women into the green economy, the Women’s Bureau held nine pilot programs, seven teleconference informational calls, and will be issuing a guide on green jobs to assist women in transition.
We have made great strides, but we have more work to do. We know that women’s economic empowerment is essential for the economic security of the country.
Sara Manzano-Diaz is the Director of the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau